Saudi Arabia ‘may allow’ cinemas after three-decade ban

Saudi Arabia ‘may allow’ cinemas after three-decade ban

London: After a three-decade-long ban on cinemas, Saudi Arabia “may allow" the screening of selected movies in the Kingdom.

The Chief of Saudi Arabia’s powerful religious police has said some movies may be acceptable in the Kingdom, British newspaper ‘The Daily Telegraph´ reported, citing media reports from the Islamic nation.

“A movie could possibly be acceptable if it serves good and is suitable under Islam," Head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Sheikh Ibrahim al-Gaith was quoted as saying.

In fact, Sheikh Ibrahim made the concession after last week’s breakthrough public showings of the comedy feature film ‘Manahi´in Jeddah.

He pulled back from comments he made two days earlier branding movies “an absolute evil" in the wake of screenings in the Red Sea port city.

For more than a week from December nine, the Rotana entertainment group controlled by Saudi tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal showed ‘Manahi´to rapturous audiences in Jeddah and nearby Taif.

The screenings, approved by the Provincial Governor, Prince Khalid al-Faisal, sparked hopes that Saudi Arabia would soon allow public cinemas.

At present, there are no cinemas in Saudi Arabia, but some coffee shops surreptitiously put on movies for customers and many Saudis enjoy movies at home on DVDs and satellite television.

To experience a cinema, they have to travel to nearby Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates or other nearby countries in the Middle East.